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Pedestrians walk past the Pfizer logo on the exterior of their headquarters in New York Nov. 5, 2013. (Adam Hunger/Reuters)
Pedestrians walk past the Pfizer logo on the exterior of their headquarters in New York Nov. 5, 2013. (Adam Hunger/Reuters)

At the open: TSX little changed ahead of heavy earnings slate Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was little changed Monday amid major developments on the merger and acquisition front.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 2.24 points to 14,531.33 as traders also looked ahead to a heavy slate of corporate earnings and economic data.

Talks between Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining have broken off. The news came two days before Barrick’s annual meeting, where company chairman and industry legend Peter Munk was due to step down. Barrick shares lost 31 cents to $19.43.

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Elsewhere, U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer has offered to buy Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for around $100-billion (U.S.).

The Canadian dollar was up 0.15 of a cent to 90.76 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were mixed with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 74.47 points to 16,435.93, the Nasdaq slipped 1.91 points to 4,073.65 and the S&P 500 index was up 3.03 points to 1,866.43.

Investors also focused on rising tensions in the Ukraine crisis.

On Monday, the United States government imposed sanctions against seven Russian government officials and 17 companies with links to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

The White House says the penalties are being levied because Russia has failed to live up to commitments it agreed to under an international accord aimed at de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

Corporate earnings will help set the tone on markets this coming week.

In Canada, Imperial Oil, Suncor, Cenovus Energy and Canadian Natural Resources are expected to report results.

The energy sector is the best-performing group on the TSX year to date, up about 15 per cent with the differential on Canadian heavy oil sharply narrowed and a lower Canadian dollar helping to boost sales in U.S. currency.

On Monday, Precision Drilling reported first-quarter net earnings of $102-million, or 35 cents per diluted share, up from $93-million, or 33 cents per diluted share a year ago. Revenues increased 13 per cent to $672-million, mainly due to higher pricing and drilling activity in Canada, the U.S. and internationally. Its earnings missed expectations by a penny, but its shares gained 22 cents to $14.06.

It’s also a big week for economic data with traders looking to the outcome of Wednesday’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting on interest rates, the latest readings on U.S. and Canadian economic growth and, at the end of the week, the American jobs report for April.

They will also look to see the Chinese government’s purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector.

Ahead of that Chinese data, the International Monetary Fund raised its economic growth forecast for China on Monday but warned that its financial system faces risks due to the rapid expansion of debt. The IMF upped its estimate by 0.3 of a percentage point to 7.5 per cent, which is in line with the ruling Communist Party’s official growth target for the year Advancers and decliners were about evenly split on the TSX with consumer staples stocks leading gainers, up 0.5 per cent.

On the commodity markets, June crude in New York climbed 53 cents to $101.13 (U.S.) a barrel and the TSX energy sector rose 0.12 per cent.

The gold sector led decliners, down 1.4 per cent while June bullion gained $1.70 to $1,302.50 an ounce.

The base metals sector declined 11.4 per cent as July copper was unchanged at two cents to $3.10 a pound.

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